Hollywood movie or HC Andersen fairy-tale: the jury’s out on how best to compare Jonas Vingegaard’s triumph in the Tour de France

The praise has been coming thick and fast for newly-crowned 2022 Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard, with Bjarne Riis, the first Dane to win the title back in 1996, leading the chorus.

Riis’s applause for the 25-year-old, who was in his mother’s womb when ‘Ørnen fra Herning’ triumphed, compared the victory to a HC Andersen fairy-tale.

“It has been completely unique. With the start in Denmark, the presentation in Tivoli, all the Danish stage wins and then a finish with a Dane in yellow in Paris. It has been a HC Andersen fairy-tale all the way through,” he told DR.

Granted, it’s true that most HC Andersen tales start off in Copenhagen, but it’s unclear which one involves 21 days of gruelling cycling. However, upon closer inspection, there is one tale called ‘Golden Treasure’.

Riis: Put yourself first, Jonas, you can’t please everyone
Riis – who 11 years after his triumph confessed to doping during the period when he won the Tour de France, by which time it was too late for the cycling bodies to strike his name off the winners’ list – remembers the aftermath of his victory as being one of “overwhelming chaos”.

“I would advise Jonas to enjoy it and take it in. He must be happy for all the fans who are so happy for him. After all, having a Dane riding in yellow in Paris and winning the tour is not an everyday occurrence,” he said.

“It brings the country together – people from all walks of life – just like when the national football team performs at its very best. It’s great that we have these moments, because it’s important in the society we live in, and it’s something we should treasure.”

Vingegaard must put himself first, he adds, at a time when “everyone wants a piece of him”, as mental fortitude will be crucial should he want to successfully defend his title in 2023.

Nothing fishy about this win
Crown Prince Frederik has suggested that Vingegaard’s triumph could be Denmark’s very best sporting achievement – and it’s true that the global praise has been deafening.

Italian newspaper La Gazetta dello Sport hailed him as the ‘King of Paris’, marvelling at the superiority of the Dane and close rival Tadej Pogacar over the rest of the field.

“No-one was able to react to their acceleration, so great was their superiority. All the other rivals became bit-part actors,” it noted.

Media outlet Slovenske Novice was a little surprised that home duo Pogacar and Vingegaard’s team-mate Primoz Roglic had missed out to a “former fish factory employee”. 

Continuing with the fish comparisons, Bild (Germany) and American AP jumped on the fish factory angle in their bid to catch a big audience, and The Guardian (UK) rubbed a bit of salt into the wound by comparing Pogacar to a “dull knife” in the mountains.

More like a Hollywood movie
The final word was left to Australian cycling media outlet Cyclingtips.com, which compared Vingegaard’s journey from Copenhagen to Paris to a Hollywood movie.

With a bit of tweaking, the headline for the Cyclingtips.com piece could be ‘Follow the Yellowbrick Road’ and the byline ‘The Wizard of Oz’, surely. 

“The Tour de France looks set to enter a decade that will be remembered for a long time in cycling,” it purred.

Upon reflection, it could be another series of ‘Road to’ movies.